Italian President Sergio Mattarella welcomed Shoah survivor Sami Modiano at the Quirinale Palace last week to officially invest him as Knight of the Grand Cross to the Merit of the Republic.
“The Italian Republic owes you deep gratitude for your testimony. You have experienced the abyss and the horror of the death camps and courageously passed on the memory to the younger generations so that it never happens again,” Mattarella said.
Modiano was escorted by his inseparable wife Selma, the president of the Jewish Community of Rome Ruth Dureghello and the chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni.
“I was 14 years old – Modiano told President Mattarella – and I saw horrible things. I was the only one in my family to survive and for many years I wondered why. I only understood it in 2005, when I decided to break the silence and to talk about my Auschwitz experience to the boys. I was chosen to bear witness.”